The ancient Incas of Peru understood the importance of Pau D’Arco, and today its wonderful benefits are just beginning to surface, especially in the area of immunity enhancement and cell strengthening. Sometimes called the “Miracle Bark from South America,” its therapeutic uses are somewhat controversial, but it is considered a powerful antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, and that’s just the beginning!
Pau D’Arco is an evergreen of the Amazon rain forest, but it is also deciduous when it grows in higher and colder locations. It is a tropical tree, native to South and Central America, and although it grows to a height of one hundred feet, it may start out as a vine. The tree grows in well-drained, fertile soil in sunny, warm, tropical climates.
Pau D’Arco has high iron content, making it effective in the assimilation of nutrients and elimination of body wastes, and also includes beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, saponins, flavonoids, alkaloids, barium, iodine, lapachol (a naphthoquinone), lapachone and xyloidine (quinoids).
The wood and inner barks are used for medicinal purposes, and the lumber (known as lapacho) is highly valued in cabinetmaking. Pau D’Arco may flower in a number of colors, but the roxa (red, magenta, crimson and violet) varieties are used the most in herbal medicine, and the best quality is said to come from Argentina (where it is used extensively by the Callaway tribe). Pau D’Arco has a long folk history of use in the treatment of infections and cancer, and many South American Indian societies have used it for centuries to treat cancer, infectious diseases, and wounds, and to enhance energy and endurance. They also introduced Pau D’Arco to the early Portuguese settlers of Brazil to treat schistosomiasis, a tropical disease brought on by flatworm, and modern science does support those antimicrobial properties.
Pau D’Arco has a long folk history of use in the treatment of infections and cancer, and many South American Indian societies have used it for centuries to treat cancer, infectious diseases, and wounds, and to enhance energy and endurance. They also introduced Pau D’Arco to the early Portuguese settlers of Brazil to treat schistosomiasis, a tropical disease brought on by flatworm, and modern science does support those antimicrobial properties. It’s ancient and current use in South America as a treatment for cancer (mostly blood and skin) is highly controversial, but the National Cancer Institute does not recognize it as a viable treatment because the high levels required to be effective in may cause many undesirable side effects.
Although the Argentine government dispenses the herb free of charge to cancer and leukemia patients, the government of Brazil disavows its efficacy for such treatments. Test tube studies have found that the lapachone content can kill cancer cells by inhibiting an enzyme called “topoisomerase,” and there are hopes that effective anti-cancer drugs may eventually be produced through chemical modification of lapachone. There is much ongoing research on the subject, but there have been wonderful positive reports regarding the herb’s antifungal and anti-inflammatory qualities.
Pau D’Arco is reputed to possess significant and potent antiviral and antifungal properties and has been used as an effective treatment against viruses, yeast infections, such as Candida albicans, etc., herpes simplex, flu, gonorrhea, athlete’s foot, warts, syphilis, venereal disease, and vaginitis.
Thought to be an effective anti-inflammatory and painkiller, Pau D’Arco has been used to help ease the pain and inflammation of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis and rheumatism. It is also believed to ease the temporary discomforts of inflammatory bowel disease and alleviate bowel pain.
Pau D’Arco is thought to promote and maintain normal blood sugar levels, which may be of help in cases of diabetes. It appears to prevent a spillover of glucose into the urine and seems to act in the same manner as the prescription drug ingredient, acarbose, by keeping sugar from passing through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.
Pau D’Arco is considered a mild laxative and diuretic. It promotes urine flow and supports urinary tract health, fighting such conditions as cystitis, prostatitis, and other urinary infections. The herb is also thought to lower fever.
As a blood cleanser, Pau D’Arco is thought to purify and clear toxins from the blood and multiply the numbers of red corpuscles, which helps to build the blood and may be helpful in combating pernicious anemia and other ailments entailing blood deficiencies.
Pau D’Arco is considered an immune enhancer that is believed to strengthen and stimulate the immune system to produce macrophages, immune cells that engulf and digest bacteria and infectious microbes before they invade cell walls and cause damage to cells and tissue. The herb is said to combat chronic degenerative ailments, increase energy and stamina and has been used as part of a treatment to combat environmentally produced allergies and asthma.
Pau D’Arco is said to protect and promote healthy liver function. It is believed to neutralize poisons that involve the liver and may be helpful in treating hepatitis. Some South American hospitals have used Pau D’Arco on patients to reduce the destructive process that chemotherapy exerts on the liver and kidneys. Chemotherapy has been known to destroy the liver and kidneys, and this may be of great help to patients undergoing such treatments.
Pau D’Arco is thought to be an excellent antibacterial and also support good digestion. In laboratory tests, the active ingredient, lapachol, reverses aspirin-induced irritation of the stomach lining, and may possibly have antibiotic effects on Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium associated with gastritis and peptic ulcer. Its antibiotic properties have been useful in the treatment of dysentery, and the Naval Medical Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, has found that lapachol is also useful against parasitic infection and may be effective in treating malaria and Chagas disease.
Used externally, Pau D’Arco has been used to treat dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, scabies, boils and many other skin infections.